iZombie wrapped up its second season tonight with back-to-back episodes. I already offered some overall thoughts on the season after last week's outing, so let's get specific on the finale, coming up just as soon as I'm a squad leader of my Call of Duty World League challenge team…
We know from the Meat Cute massacre in the season 1 finale that this show can do impressive zombie action when it's of a mind to. But the carnage at the Max Rager party was much bigger and more elaborate than I'd have expected. If it wasn't as technically impressive as the Walking Dead version would have been, it was so much fun, and so character-focused – whether Clive declining to be scratched, Liv being forced to kill the Romero'ed Drake (who only wound up that way because he was the good guy Liv always believed him to be), or Major finally getting to throw Vaughn's submarine metaphor back at him in the best possible moment – that I didn't much notice. Like I said last week, entertain me and make me care about the people on your show, and everything else becomes window dressing.
It helped that the finale minimized the frequently impenetrable drug war storyline, with Mr. Boss and his henchmen not appearing at all in the first hour, and popping up in the second mainly to give Blaine a chance to play hero (and, in the process, jump in line ahead of Ravi for Peyton's affections). It does seem like the show is committing to this face turn of Blaine's, whether he really has amnesia or not, but it's probably wise to clear the decks of Mr. Boss and the whole feud soon into season 3, given that the new story arc promised by Vivian(*) from Fillmore Graves (another fine punny name from the people who gave you a zombie heroine called Liv Moore), who's not only a zombie herself, but one suggesting that Seattle will soon become the world's first official zombie community.
(*) Played by Andrea Savage, who played Casey in the original homemade version of Rob Thomas and John Embom's Party Down pilot, then couldn't do the series because she was pregnant.
That's a very different direction for the show to head in, and one that, coupled with Clive finally being let in on the zombie loop, suggests a show that might not be quite as shackled to the Murder of the Week format going forward. The best parts of those stories are how Liv responds to her latest brain, but we saw in these episodes that the show can still do that without requiring her to play sleuth. On the other hand, that episodic structure has value – shows that go all-mythology too soon risk burning themselves out more quickly – and it would seem a shame to abandon the procedural stuff now that Clive knows all the gruesome details of how Liv does what she does. We know Malcolm Goodwin can play lighter moments (like Clive's frustration with George R.R. Martin), and finally letting him into the inner circle will allow for more of that and less of him just being the puzzled straight man.
Very strong follow-up season. The show's world occasionally got too big, but the performances and the time spent building up the characters made it all work.
Some other thoughts:
* Several publicity photos were floating around of Liv, Major, and Clive singing with The Other Rob Thomas. These turned out to be just goofy publicity stills, rather than an actual scene from the episode, where iZombie's Rob Thomas finally got to have his vengeance on his more famous name-twin by having the singer get devoured during the Super Max rampage.
* Nice to have another member of the Veronica Mars/Party Down gang appear, with Ken Marino playing Major's defense lawyer. Vaughn is dead, but I'm guessing this won't be the last we see of Marino here.
* The show has used much more elaborate recipes and presentations for Liv's zombie snacks, but something about seeing it as shmear on a bagel seemed a particularly fitting use of the stuff.
* Speaking of both Ken Marino and brain recipes, if Major's lawyer could just give him an energy bar, couldn't he – or Clive, for that matter, once he'd been let in on the secret – have brought Major a brain shake or something else once the protein bar gambit failed, rather than simply arranging Major's release? Clive seems to go along with the plan more to prevent the apocalypse than because he thinks Major's actions with Meat Cute and the Chaos Killer victims were justified. (When I posed this theory to Roth Cornet – in the video that should be embedded at the top of this post – she pointed out that it would still be a long-term problem having Major in prison. What if Clive wasn't available at some point to get him his special treat?)
* On the one hand, Vaughn had definitely reached his limit as an ongoing villain. On the other, I will very much miss Steven Weber's ability to take a line like “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome Jason Priestley type?” and take it to another level with his delivery.
What did everybody else think?